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PODS Spotlight: Olivier Xie Cheng Li

Hello everyone, I’m Oli! I’m currently in my last semester at McGill. I’m majoring in Honours Sociology and a minor in Political Science. I’m very grateful to be one of the PODS fellows this year. This program has equipped me with cutting-edge skills in coding and data science along with a focus on policy issues. In addition to a rigorous training, I’ve had the chance to meet other ambitious peers and professionals in the fields of policy and big data.

Since starting at McGill, I’ve developed a strong interest for the intersection of policy research and media communications. My past experiences with UNWFP, the Brookings-Tsinghua Center, and the G20 Research Group enabled me to work on a variety of policy issues such as public health, foreign policy and climate finance. Although I have gained invaluable knowledge from these experiences, I realized that a lack of quantitative skills prevents me from delving further into many policy matters. Through serendipity, I found PODS and was able to bridge the skill gap!

Following the bootcamp, I was able to apply what I’ve learned into my PODS internship at the Conference Board of Canada. My project examines the intellectual property flows over the past decade and documents the industrial makeup of patents in Montreal, compared to other North American cities. It has been such a fruitful learning experience. Using R, I was able to formulate some innovation strategy for Montreal based on data analyses.

Through a two-month program, I've been able to conduct two research projects from scratch. While doing the projects, I’ve developed a fundamental data literacy, and I've been able to communicate effectively with economists and data scientists. Without PODS, I couldn’t imagine being able to master these hands-on skills in a such short period of time. These skills also allowed me to better examine and understand policy. The last and most important fun fact is that data science has become my new hobby!


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